David Thompson was appointed International Director in October 2018 and is responsible for the development of the CII outside the UK. He has more than 34 years’ experience in the insurance profession managing international sales teams
What is your current plan for delivering quality learning, qualifications and good practice internationally?
Before we do anything else, we need to really understand the effect that the coronavirus outbreak will have on our members and staff abroad. It is the most significant international event in my time in the profession and will have a seismic effect on every part of society for many years to come. In our role as one of the most respected professional bodies, we will be expected to provide leadership.
Beyond this significant focus, our next role will be to work very closely with the regulators. We have a very good relationship with the local regulator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and we are building outwards from there. We also have good relationships with the regulators in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia and there are many, other regulators that we would like to collaborate with for the benefit of Insurance and Personal Finance consumers around the world.
We also need to improve our member engagement. We will be putting greater effort and time into engaging and building a relationship with our members on the international stage. We do a very good job in the UK and I think the improvements to our technology platform will help greatly to do the same internationally the next few years. In doing this, we must be mindful of tailoring our offer to different regions and, if possible, countries, using local currency and languages as appropriate.
We are also developing a structured approach, working with members and partners, to continuing professional development (CPD) and events, enabling us to hold worthwhile value-adding events around the key regions.
The key to unlocking our international potential is our relationship with our 38 affiliated institutes. We are in ongoing dialogue with them to understand how we can work closer together and feedback suggests that we have some very good relationships with many of them. The good news, I think, is that the affiliated institutes tend to be in places where we are pretty well-known on the ground.
Delivery partners is another route for growing our business to provide our face-to-face training to individuals, and we are currently very focused on growing the number of accredited trainers and being more joined up in our approach. This is something I will be working on with Gill White, our new Director of Learning and Development.
We also aim to work more closely with education organisations, such as universities and higher education to, where possible, grant joint qualifications.
How do the relationships work with the affiliated institutes?
The key principle is partnership. Whilst they come in different shapes and sizes, each of the 37 affiliated institutes in our international network have relationships in their communities and provide a range of locally-administered services which have a profound impact on public trust. With our internationally recognised qualification framework, there’s an opportunity for us to amplify one another’s strengths – not just to the benefit of each other, but also to the benefit of regulators, employers and members.
The key to unlocking our international potential is our relationship with our 37 affiliated institutes
Where has the CII got the most established relationships and where have you focused on establishing relationships?
For historic reasons, there was a substantial overlap between the Commonwealth countries and our international activities – which is why we have amazing long-term relationships in countries as diverse as Canada, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. The Commonwealth principles of prosperity, democracy and peace resonate strongly in each of these markets, and there is huge respect for our Royal Patron Her Majesty the Queen.
Additionally, there are important, fast-emerging opportunities outside the Commonwealth. We are now very well established in Hong Kong and this is being used as a base to reach out into mainland China and other tiger economies in the region. Probably the biggest opportunity of all lies in the Middle East, because we have had a relationship with the local UAE regulator, which is now developing even further, and it is creating a proposition and blueprint that we can go to other regulators with and talk about, be they in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman or Qatar, where all the regulators are really keen to talk to us.
What are your priorities in the year ahead? The key theme will be to build a united profession that encompasses both insurance and personal finance, and in all our engagement activity we will emphasise the benefits of bringing these disciplines closer together. At a more detailed level, we will be building on the great relationships we have with regulators in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia and this will involve establishing a new office in Dubai; positioning the CII as a valued partner for the many organisations in Asia Pacific that are focusing on the issue of standards; building a plan for action with our affiliated institutes that leverages insights from our recent survey activity; and lastly gaining agreement for the international strategy going forward with the Board in October.
The potential for our international business is huge, we just need to be careful to build an infrastructure that can cope well with the opportunities that present themselves as there is no point over-promising and under-delivering.